The Garrett County Commissioners on Thursday dealt another blow to a proposed trail along Maryland’s last official “wild river,” asking the state to use the $4.7 million slated for a Youghiogheny River passage to trail systems elsewhere in the western county.
The commissioners – Paul C. Edwards, Ryan S. Savage and S. Larry Tichnell – made their position known in a letter to Josh Kurtz, the state’s new secretary of the Department of Natural Resources.
“The Board of County Commissioners has spoken with many of the stakeholders, and based upon feedback received, we respectfully request that the department consider withdrawing any further work or study on the
proposed Youghiogheny River Trail at this time,” the letter said.
“To continue our local overall efforts, we request that the $4.7 million dollars allocated for this project be transferred to Garrett County Government for the construction and maintenance of other trails and connectors within Garrett County – a worthy purpose of the original allocation.”
It was the second setback for supporters of the wild trail this month. The Friendsville mayor and town council wrote a similar letter to Kurtz urging DNR and the General Assembly to use the funds for other trails.
The Youghiogheny River, flowing north through Garrett County and into Pennsylvania, is considered a “Scenic and Wild River,” so designated by the legislature in 1968. The “Yock,” as it is known, is popular white-water kayakers, visitors to Swallow Falls State Park, hikers, birders and people who fish the river’s long pools and riffles.
Supporters of the project say the public deserves more access to the Yock corridor. Opponents of the trail say its construction, wide enough to accommodate hikers and bikers between Friendsville and the Sang Run area, would violate state law and disrupt a stretch of Maryland countryside that was meant to be left undeveloped.
The $4.7 million in state funds was set aside for the trail development during the 2022 legislative session. Two lawmakers, who have since retired, worked to get the allocation.
Gregg Bortz, DNR spokesman Friday said:
“The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is evaluating potential opportunities to use the $4.7 million in funding provided by the legislature last year in Garrett County. Any plan would adhere strictly to the provisions of the Scenic and Wild Rivers Act. Before a plan is developed, DNR will seek the input and support of Maryland’s citizens and local officials. The department will announce a public meeting that the acting secretary will conduct in Garrett County to share ideas and strengthen DNR’s partnerships in this important region.”
3 thoughts on “Looks like the ‘wild’ Youghiogheny River will stay that way”
div>This could be the final blow. I understand th
Good new for the fish and birds and the other wild creatures (and not so wild creatures) that use this waterway.
Now, any chance we can do something about the rail systems in this country to prevent other disasters?
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The success of this endeavor is in no little part due to the efforts of the late Jim Gracie and many altruistic people like him, including yourself. Thanks for sharing this piece.
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